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by Michelle Rosenfeld — May 23, 2016 at 11:10 am 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Doofl logoFinding himself “bored” with the options for charity fundraising, Ted Decareau’s interest was piqued by the viral Ice Bucket Challenge.

“I wanted to see if we could create a platform that would give any nonprofit the opportunity to reach those heights,” he said. And so Rosslyn-based Doofl was born.

The name Doofl is derived from “Do” (taking action) and “fl” (raffle). The no-cost mobile application – which launched in January – is open to anyone age 13 or older with a Facebook or Twitter account.

“With Doofl, you can create your own virtual fundraiser and have your friends or followers impact the video that you make with their votes and pledges,” Decareau said. “You get the app and pick three fun dares or challenges you’re willing to do, and then have your friends vote and pledge to make it happen. Completing the dare and posting the video acts as the trigger to convert all pledges to donations.”

Users can choose charities from a list of 7,500 verified organizations, or they can request that a specific charity be added to the list for their challenge. The list was generated from Guidestar and Charity Navigator and all donations are tax deductible.

“I thought it would be cool to turn ‘trivial’ social media content into something of value for non-profits,” Decareau said.

Doofl is also offering a limited-time promotion to match the first $100 pledge.

“We have a set number of matches that we allow each promotion and we will bring it back from time to time,” Decareau said.

Users also can win money for their preferred charity without making a video.

“Every month we’re going to give away a $1,000 to the charity of a randomly selected user,” Decareau said. “So just by installing the app and linking your Twitter or Facebook account, you’ll be eligible to ‘win’ the donation for your charity.”

Eventually, Doofl will enhance this monthly drawing by letting users “earn” more chances to win by voting, donating and sharing through the app.

“I think this ‘bonus donation’ drawing is a bit unique and it will be fun to give away extra donations,” Decareau said, adding, “Hopefully we can grow so we can do bonus donations weekly.”

Doofl also has plans to add a feature in coming weeks to generate a unique mobile web page for voting, pledging and donating outside of the app.

Decareau said he picked Rosslyn for Doofl’s home base because of the great co-working spaces – it’s based in MakeOffices – and the neighborhood’s convenient location.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — May 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

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From school permission slips to executing wills and closing on home purchases, notarizations are part of small and large decisions in everyone’s lives. But it can’t always be easy to find a notary when and where you need one.

Crystal City-based Notarize has an app for that.

At $25 a pop, users can obtain notarizations virtually anywhere, at any time.

In 2011, a law passed in Virginia enabled certain certified state notaries to complete notarizations through a video call. Notarizations made in Virginia are valid across state lines under state and federal laws.

Notarize screenshotWith nearly 1.25 billion notarizations taking place in the U.S. annually, the founders of Notarize saw a real “pain point” that could be addressed using technology and the new Virginia law.

“My partner was traveling when he realized an important financial transaction that required notarization wasn’t executed properly and he couldn’t find a notary to fix it,” Adam Pase, co-founder and COO of Notarize, said. “It delayed the transaction for weeks.”

The founders of Notarize jumped on the idea of virtual notarization, getting ahead of the curve.

“Notarization may not be the sexiest area to focus on, so I don’t think a lot of people were directing a lot of attention to the notarization process,” Pase said.

The company’s work paid off – more than 1,000 documents were notarized through the mobile app in the first six weeks after it launched.

Notarize co-founder Adam PasePase said Notarize aims to keep users’ wait times to less than three minutes.

Right now, 40 notaries are working with the company, but Pase said Notarize has received more than 100 additional applications.

“News has spread and we’re really excited to have so many notaries interested in our platform,” Pase said.

And Notarize isn’t just for individual consumers. Businesses stand to gain a lot from the virtual notary service, according to Pase.

Notarize co-founder Pat KinselBusinesses – such as mortgage companies, banks, legal firms, construction companies and more – can use Notarize to streamline their operations, onboard customers and create a completely digital audit trail. So far, Pase said the company has received “tremendous interest” from businesses.

Pase said the company was drawn to Crystal City because of the proximity to D.C. and many of the key decision makers and customers it was targeting.

“Northern Virginia has become a hotbed for technology companies and Crystal City has some exciting momentum in the startup tech world,” Pase said. In this area, he added, Notarize was “confident we could get the talent we need.”

Notarize currently is available as an iOS application for Apple devices, as well as a desktop application. Pase said the company has plans to make the service even more accessible in the future.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — May 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Swoon For screenshotWhen Arlington resident Hillary Leo left her nine-to-five job last March, inspiration struck.

Inspired by a travel blog she had been writing, Leo launched a new online store called Swoon For. The store incorporates her expertise from both her time as a New York City fashion editor and as a photo editor National Geographic Society.

“The biggest inspiration for the store has been my travels, experience as a fashion editor, as well as working as a photo editor for the National Geographic Society,” Leo said. “The store really is a culmination of my professional journey and personal travel adventures. I have an insatiable appetite for travel and when you combine that with my passion for design and style you have Swoon For as the result.”

Swoon For focuses on products that trigger conversations and evoke a sense of adventure.

“Each items has to offer a style that speaks to something you would purchase while traveling to a far off place,” Leo said. “The items that are from various countries in our boutique really speak to the crafts that are highly valued there. For example, our handmade baskets from Rwanda, handwoven palm bags from Bali, silk sari necklaces from India, Moroccan rugs and blankets just to name a few.”

Leo aims to help artisans all over the world continue their traditions while sharing those traditions with the people of Arlington and the rest of the United States.

“One designer I work with for example has started her own small business in Jaipur, India,” Leo said. “The items she designs are made in partnership ikat fabric makers and hand-block printing artisans whom she has worked with personally for years.

“So not only are we helping her, but also aiming to help keep the arts of (and jobs of) ikat making and hand-block printing in the hands of the artists and not the machines that are able to replicate and mass produce these special items.”

Leo, who lives in Arlington’s Old Glebe neighborhood, said her personal touch also sets Swoon For’s swag apart.

“The collections are curated by me personally and are representative of my taste when it comes to fashion, home décor, jewelry and children’s goods,” Leo said. “The merchandise is international inspiration for the home and closet where.”

In addition, Leo said the online store offers a chance to give back. The majority of Swoon For’s items are sold in partnership with not-for-profit organizations or are ordered directly from artisans.

“I believe we are seeing a steady shift in shoppers’ philanthropic interests,” said said, adding,”And while there are other stores offering this, I feel that many of the items I have found are not available elsewhere.”

But Leo doesn’t plan to just exist in cyberspace.

“The dream has always been to open a brick and mortar store, but financially I’m not there yet and feel that by launching the store online it is a way to get my feet wet and learn many of the lessons necessary to run a successful retail business while gaining a loyal customer following,” she said.

For now, Leo said her next step is to hire summer interns focused on communications and design.

And she will never forget her store’s roots in the blog world.

“I regularly update the blog, which can be accessed from the store, and will be including interviews with our artisans, more about my inspiration and trips to find merchandise around the globe.”

by Michelle Rosenfeld — April 25, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

ChurnZero screenshotCompanies offering music, software, movies and even food increasingly are moving toward subscription models. And many of those businesses harbor one lofty goal: zero churn.

Churn happens when a customer decides to no longer subscribe to a product or service. The customer must then be replaced with a new one. Due to the costs of customer acquisition, high churn can kill an otherwise promising young business.

“Fighting churn is especially important for subscription businesses because they have to continuously keep the customer happy or else they will simply cancel and move on,” said You Mon Tsang, co-founder of Arlington-based ChurnZero.

As an entrepreneur and early pioneer in software-as-a-service (SaaS), Tsang has first-hand experience with the financial impact of churn on a subscription-based business.

“In the past, software would be bought all for one price, paid at once, and owned forever,” he said, adding, “Moving to the subscription meant less money upfront and more consistent revenue over time, but only if the customer is happy and stays with you.

“Churn was a critical business imperative in every business I’ve been a part of, but — surprisingly — there was little technology to help companies understand the health of their customer base.”

That’s where ChurnZero comes in.

Tsang and co-founder Mark Heys built a software prototype and got feedback from more than a dozen companies that were potential customers.

“We got great feedback on the prototype. But, more importantly, they all said this was a real and unsolved problem,” Tsang said. “That gave us the confidence to risk our time, energy and money on creating a business.”

Unlike other companies in this new field, Tsang said ChurnZero does more than just collecting data and creating reports on customers.

“At ChurnZero, we feel that data is important but not enough. Our solution combines data, task automation and communication and is one of the most comprehensive platforms in the industry,” Tsang said.

ChurnZero’s software enables businesses to understand how customers use a product, assess customers’ likelihood to renew, and personalize the customer experience.

Using ChurnZero’s services, businesses can better engage with their customers, sell more subscriptions and fight churn. The company offers analytics, personalized and automated customer interfaces, and timely alerts about customers–including those who are “power users” and those who are disengaged.

In addition to ChurnZero’s main services, the company’s blog, “Fighting Churn,” cranks out advice and resources to help account managers and executives retain customers. The site recently was named one of the Top 50 Customer Churn Resources by NGData.

Tsang and Heys chose Arlington as ChurnZero’s headquarters because of its attractive location to the nation’s top talent.

“It’s proximity to [Washington, D.C.] and public transportation, as well as the reasonable commute from the towns outside the beltway, means we have access to people fresh-out-of-college or with decades of experience,” Tsang said.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — April 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

In the financial advisory industry, the old-school referral model is no longer cutting it. So Arlington’s Advisor Portable is bringing the industry and its clients into the 21st century.

Advisor Portable's Garari Mikel (right) with clients (courtesy photo)“The client experience is archaic and consequently how financial advisors grow their business through referrals is broken,” said Garari Mikel, co-founder of Advisor Portable.

“You can order a pizza and track its progress digitally, but with most financial advisors you can not do the same with your money,” Mikel said, adding, “As a result, the amount of discussions clients engage in about achieving money milestones is muted and resulting referrals, limited.”

Mikel saw a problem that needed solving. And as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

At first, Mikel and his partner, Aaron St. Germain, met daily to discuss the issue from every angle and find the best way to boost financial advisors’ business growth while improving clients’ experience. It wasn’t an easy task.

“We are at the nascent stage of a seismic shift within the financial advice industry. Digital-only platforms have begun to arise that offer investment management to consumers, without the ability to talk to a human, all online, at a significantly reduced price,” Mikel said. “However, financial advice is complex and individually dynamic and I’m not sure if the majority of consumers are ready to hand that process entirely to a computer.

“In our view, financial advisors will either transcend the client experience to match their digital-only competitors, or they will be displaced by financial advisors who do.”

Hailed as “Uber for financial advisors,” Advisor Portable is a mobile application branded for clients that uses a proprietary system to automate marketing. The creators then take a percent share of new business brought in through the app.

Security is also a major concern for the company. Encryption scrambles messages sent through the app to ensure no data is compromised – a level of protection that the company says is “equal to or better than the level of encryption used by most major financial institutions for their online and mobile banking services.”

“While there are other technology firms that will offer to upgrade a financial advisory firm’s digital experience, Advisor Portable is the only one that focuses on client specific-goals and educating the client on their money, encouraging money discussions and ultimately, more referrals,” Mikel said.

Mikel — who also is the CEO and co-founder of SAM Phinancial, another Arlington business — said he was excited to bring another business to the Arlington area.

“I love the people and the culture that makes this city unique, characteristics that I wanted to be a part of the culture here at Advisor Portable.”

by Michelle Rosenfeld — April 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

When technology firms are looking for fresh talent, they often turn to recruiters to find the best and the brightest. A growing IT recruiting firm in town is taking on that challenge.

In true startup fashion, Hatch IT started in a garage in Leesburg, Va. And that humble start was key to their success.

Tim Winkler, CEO of Hatch IT, said, “Given our roots as a bootstrapped startup ourselves, and growing out of a garage, we are able to relate first-hand to many of the key cultural attributes our startup clients are targeting,” adding, “Being able to really understand our clients’ equity plan and communicating those details accordingly can be a make-or-break factor when selling the opportunity to candidates.”

Hatch logoFormerly known as TRW Consulting Services, the company was founded in 2011 based on three main principles. First, that recruiting is underrated and often is overlooked as a key element of a healthy business plan in early-stage startups and small businesses. Second, that recruiting can be outsourced to a true partner. And finally, that recruiting does not have to be overly costly for the startup community.

Winkler said the company’s name and logo — which depicts an egg hatching — are “symbolic of helping startups break out of their shell, and for engineers it sets the stage for fresh new beginnings in an innovative tech startup.”

Hatch is unique from other technology recruiting firms in the area, Winkler said, because of its focus on the technology startup industry.

“Hatch is on a mission to change this preconceived notion of recruiters by only connecting our engineers with opportunities that are 100 percent a fit in terms of tech stack, company culture and career growth,” Winkler said, adding, “What separates Hatch from the hundreds of other recruiting shops in the area is our specialization in the local D.C. tech startup space, specifically in the areas of software development, mobile development and product design.

“When partnering with startups, there is a noticeable difference in understanding the company culture and being able to identify with candidates that will adapt in such a fluid environment.”

When it came to picking a location when they were ready to upgrade their headquarters, Winkler said Arlington was a “no-brainer.”

“We knew Arlington was the perfect location for us given it’s perfectly positioned in the heart of the local startup boom,” Winkler said. “It’s exciting to have our new headquarters in Crystal City, where organizations such as WeWork and 1776, which share a similar vision, are right in your backyard.”

by Michelle Rosenfeld — April 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The Haleakala Silversword is a rare plant that grows in the hot, dry climate of a remote crater in Hawaii. The silver-fronded shrub can live up to about 90 years before sprouting an impressive flowering stalk as its final hurrah before spreading seeds across the barren landscape where the plant is found.

4S logoSilversword Software and Services — an Arlington-based technology startup also known as 4S — says they chose the name because it fit with their unique position in the market. “It seemed really apt for me for the kind of work we are doing: to kind of grow something beautiful in a very bizarre environment,” 4S President Eli Senter said.

When Senter first began working in the federal IT space, he said he was “a little bit shocked at how far behind the private sector we were in some areas.” 4S aims to fill that gap by developing software tools and technical management practices for federal clients. The company offers services ranging from building system architecture, systems engineering and developing custom software to creating Web-based applications and transitioning programs to cloud computing.

So far, the firm has been focused on the secondary use of health data. 4S is developing an infrastructure for military doctors find insight into their patients’ electronic health records. “There is a treasure trove of information [in EHRs] that could be very valuable in research if looked at anonymously in bulk,” said Dan Bowman, communications associate at Eastern Foundry, a Crystal City-based startup incubator of which 4S is a member. Senter added, “To actually be able to get any big data value, you have to structure it very differently in order to be able to find patients that are similar and compare outcomes for similar patients.”

The company recently was certified as a participant in the 8(a) Business Development Program as a Native Hawaiian Organization-owned firm. That means that in some cases, 4S can “behave a lot more like you would in the private sector” when acquiring contracts for government projects, Senter said. NHO-owned firms participating in the 8(a) program can market directly to potential clients, and those clients then can contract with 4S in a much shorter time frame than the traditional process for government contract awards, according to Senter. In addition, 4S can work collaboratively with clients to design the requirements, price and other aspects of the contracts they work under.

With its new status, Senter said 4S plans to bring modern development techniques and tools to the federal sector. And Arlington was the perfect base for the firm’s mission. “We’re close to all of our defense clients … that we’ve worked with before and would like to work with again,” Senter said.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — March 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

As cyberattack techniques become less costly and more adaptable, organizations will have to up their cybersecurity game. To that end, Clarendon-based Endgame has built a team of domain experts, scientists, software engineers and designers to protect the country’s most critical assets.

Founded in 2008, Endgame is a software firm that helps governments and commercial organizations to detect, contain and evict “bad guys” from their networks to prevent damage and loss of data.

“By 2008, the accelerating pace of technological change and seismic geopolitical shifts began to intersect in unprecedented ways, from the early signs of tech-enabled social movements to increasingly brazen state-sponsored cyberattacks on private companies, and our increasing dependence on digital systems,” said Margot Koehler, senior manager of marketing and communications at Endgame.

Endgame's "hunt cycle"“Companies around the world are spending billions of dollars every year on cybersecurity, [but] 90% of them are breached and the average dwell time for these advanced adversaries is 200 days before they’re even detected,” Koehler added. “Beating these threats requires us to rewrite the playbook and see the world as the adversaries see it.”

Endgame was established to “bring a faster and more agile style of software development to early adopters inside the intelligence community and the Department of Defense,” according to Koehler. “We figured that they are on the front lines of information security, and that their cutting-edge challenges would become commonplace more widely over time.”

Arlington was the obvious location choice to best reach Endgame’s clients. The company is expanding its office and was just named to the “Fast 50” list of high-growth cybersecurity and networking firms for the second year in a row.

“We’re thrilled to be based in Arlington. Arlington is a great place for Endgame headquarters — it offers a unique mix of amenities, talented workforce and convenient transportation options,” Koehler said.

Unlike other strategies, she said Endgame “brings offense to the enterprise by actively hunting for adversaries that bypass the traditional security stack,” helping “customers move from being the hunted to the hunter, stopping breaches at the earliest possible moment, before damage and loss can occur.”

Endgame has about 130 employees, who all focus on its five core values — integrity, boldness, speed, openness and responsibility. Aside from its Clarendon headquarters, the company has offices in Baltimore; Melbourne, Fla.; San Antonio; and San Francisco.

And Endgame continues to evolve to meet its customers’ changing needs and adapt to new research and development. “We’re here to take the security industry into the 21st century and beyond, and empower enterprises to hunt within their networks the adversaries of today and tomorrow,” the company’s website states.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — March 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

As men and women in the military head off to basic training or travel overseas during a deployment, it can be hard for their friends and family to keep in touch. Even after leaving the service, veterans can easily lose track of their unit friends and mentors.

Sandboxx appArlington-based Sandboxx, the developer of a mobile application, aims to fix those communication shortfalls, says co-founder and CEO Sam Meek. In 2007, Meek left the Marine Corps and fell into a finance position on Wall Street.

“During my time there, I was introduced to Maj. Gen. Ray ‘Etool’ Smith — a Marine Corps legend — and Bob Russell, a Marine Corps father and seasoned executive,” Meek said. “They wanted to create a family readiness platform for the Marine Corps. As the only millennial on the team, I shifted the focus to creating a mobile-first, lifestyle platform for the entire military and veteran community… [and] the underlying purpose of Sandboxx has never changed — connect our military community.”

It took the team about a year to build the first version of Sandboxx, which launched on two patriotic dates — it became available on the Apple app store on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) 2014, followed by the Android app store on Independence Day (July 4) 2015. Sandboxx aims to connect active duty service members and veterans both on and off the grid.

“On-the-grid, Sandboxx lets you easily connect to any unit you have ever served, with a unique Instagram-like user experience,” Meek said. So far, 25,000 units have been created in the app by users.

“Its amazing to see our military take to Sandboxx,” Meek continued. “From the Marines at Camp Lejeune to the airmen in Okinawa, Japan, they find Sandboxx gives them a frictionless communications experience with the men and women they serve with.”

The app also enables those in the military to authenticate their spouse, parents or other close family members and friends so they can share a secure, private connection.

Sandboxx letterWhen service members are off the grid, the company offers Sandboxx Letters. There are some points — in basic training, initial summers at the military academies, officer candidate school, certain training scenarios and during deployments — that those in the military have little to no access to phones or the Internet.

“When our military is off-the-grid, the only method of communication is handwritten mail. Sandboxx Letters allows you to send a physical piece of mail directly from the app,” Meek said. “The letter includes your message, a photo, a piece of paper to write on and a pre-stamped and addressed return envelope for swift turn around to the original sender. As I’m sure you can imagine, our biggest customers here are mothers, spouses and girlfriends.”

So far, about 17,000 letters have been sent through Sandboxx.

In keeping with the company’s military roots, Sandboxx’s headquarters is only a short distance from the Pentagon, at the Eastern Foundry incubator in Crystal City.

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Syde website logoBased in Arlington and D.C., Syde is an early-stage fantasy sports startup that’s hoping to make daily fantasy sports betting more fun and accessible for casual fans. While the company is optimistic about its future, for now it looks like that future will not include customers in its home state of Virginia.

Legislation just passed by the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe will formally legalize and regulate paid fantasy sports games, declaring them to be games of skill rather than chance. Virginia is the first state to pass such a law, but there’s a catch: fantasy sports companies now have to pay an initial $50,000 fee in order to legally serve customers in Virginia.

Syde co-founder Ryan Huss says the fee is cost-prohibitive for a startup like his. While the company will maintain its largely home-based presence in Arlington, the law will bench the Virginia-based players they’ve signed up.

Speaking to ARLnow.com from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Huss said the company is talking to lawyers but expects that it will be game over for Virginia players “probably in the next couple of months.” The company’s efforts to bring awareness to the issue via Twitter were too little, too late, as the General Assembly wrapped up its marathon session.

“The most concerning thing for us is that this is going to rule out anybody but the biggest two players” — industry leaders FanDuel and DraftKings — “and maybe some media companies,” said Huss.

Syde teams screen (Courtesy of Syde)We profiled Syde in November and it has since grown to a few hundred active users while purposely staying somewhat under the radar. Two weeks ago, satisfied that a market exists for its product, Syde launched the “2.0” version of its app, which allows hassle-free daily fantasy play for all four major U.S. sports, instead of just football. Entry fees range from $5-100. Someone who pays a $5 entry fee can win $9 in a head-to-head matchup.

Next up for the company: cranking up its bootstrapped marketing efforts, pitching investors and reincorporating as a Delaware corporation, as many growing companies do.

“Our plans are to continue to get users on the current product and add features with user feedback and grow with demand,” Huss said. He’s hoping that other states don’t go the same route as Virginia, creating big barriers to entry for small companies.

“Given how complicated the current daily fantasy sports products are right now, I think the casual sports fan is really eager to see innovation and new products,” he said. “Not everybody is a stats geek… and most casual sports fans never will be. That’s why this legislation is so concerning. Innovation is desperately needed here but [this law] is only allowing the duopoly to exist.”

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

SXSW logo (photo via Facebook)Arlington Economic Development (AED) is continuing its tech and startup push by heading to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas later this week.

The music, film and interactive festival attracts thousands of tech and creative economy players, large and small, for conferences, screenings, concerts and other events. AED will have a team at the SXSW Interactive portion of the festival, described as “an incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity.”

Arlington had a small team attend last year’s SXSW and co-hosted a reception with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. This year, AED is going big with an entire slate of events, including two official panels.

(Arlington’s two panels are among the 700 or so selected from 7,000-8,000 entries, an AED spokeswoman notes.)

For a taste of Arlington in Austin, here’s the lineup of AED events:

An RSVP is required.

Speakers at the county’s panels include Opower president and co-founder Alex Laskey, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Consumer Technology Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro, among others.

They will be among good company: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to deliver keynote addresses at the festival.

AED Director Victor Hoskins said the county’s presence at SXSW is “key in letting our target audience of entrepreneurs and technology businesses know about the opportunities that exist here in Arlington.”

“This is our chance to connect with national and international companies who are on the leading edge of tech innovation,” Hoskins told ARLnow.com. “What’s more, it’s our opportunity to show those companies — through our hosted panels and other events — that Arlington is where they can find success in fields like cybersecurity, big data, and clean tech.”

“This is all part of our Way Forward strategy, which is Arlington’s commitment to closing the office vacancy gap through efforts of proactive marketing and sales as well as regional collaboration,” Hoskins added. “We had a team at [the Consumer Electronics Show] this year, which was incredibly productive, and we’ll be participating in similar other events throughout the year.”

“We’re really getting the word out that the region — and specifically Arlington — is where these tech companies want to be to succeed,” he said.

by Michelle Rosenfeld — February 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Wyth+Me teamTwo years ago, Tim Keough was enjoying a run-of-the-mill night out, meeting up with friends at a new restaurant.

“As the group gathered, we started inviting other people to join us,” Keough recounted. “I thought that this place probably loves that we are bringing more people in the door without any effort.” An idea struck him, and two years later, Wyth+Me was born.

Wyth+Me is a mobile app — its creators are based in Arlington — that is aimed at helping both consumers and local businesses. According to Keough, the app will “change the way people go out as well as fit in seamlessly with the way they currently go out.”

Unlike other location check-in apps, Wyth+Me doesn’t ask users to play a game or earn levels. By checking into a location and activating the app’s promotional capabilities – such as inviting friends or sharing the check-in on social media — users can earn “immediate rewards,” Keough said. The more friends who come out, the bigger the user’s reward. At the end of the night, users can show the app to their server or bartender to receive the discounts they earned during their visit.

Wyth+Me appIn addition, Wyth+Me takes planning the evening to the next level. The app’s Wyth+Me Later feature allows users to create future events, while getting bars and restaurants to bid for their business.

The app also is helpful for businesses that want to draw bigger crowds.

“Whereas with a coupon or app that provides what amounts to a coupon for visiting, Wyth+Me gets restaurants/bars and customers on the same page in a mutually rewarding manner,” Keough said. “The business gets more people in seats and the customers that bring in the most businesses get the best discounts – a true win-win.”

A beta version of the mobile app launched late last month in the D.C. area and already has seen “significant traction,” Keough said. Even though the app has not done any promotion, Keough added that it already has “dozens of locations online or being implemented now and several new businesses are joining each week.”

Arlington businesses that have signed up to participate include A-Town Bar and Grill, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Sehkraft Brewing, Whitlow’s and World of Beer, he said. Other markets are starting to take notice.

“We’ve already had significant inbound interest from other markets across the U.S. and should be launching in several other large metro areas this spring,” Keough said. “We are excited at the number of locations in other markets already contacting us directly that are ready to use the app and solution, as we believe this is true validation of the concept and model.”

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Zoobean screenshotWhen Arlington-based startup Zoobean appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2014, it was trying to be a “Pandora-like service for curating and delivering children’s books.” That pitch enticed billionaire “shark” Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, to invest $250,000 in the company.

But Zoobean recently pivoted to focus on a new line of business. Called Beanstack, the new service provides cloud-based software to power reading programs at libraries and schools.

It’s a focus that Cuban supports, says co-founder Felix Brandon Lloyd, and the outspoken billionaire led a recent investment round with participation from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology and Bay Area venture fund Kapor Capital.

The $400,000 funding round closed about a month ago, the company says.

Zoobean screenshotLloyd, who founded the company with his wife, Jordan, said the past few months have “been a whirlwind” for the company. Zoobean’s services are now being used by 140 libraries in North America, from Maine to California to Canada.

“It’s definitely been the most demanding and the rewarding that it’s been because there’s definitely been a correlation between how much work we’re putting in and the result we’re seeing,” Lloyd said.

Arlington Public Library was an early adopter and offers the book recommendation service to parents and children for free, as does Montgomery County, Md. and some other D.C. area jurisdictions. Arlington is also considering implementing a Beanstack-powered reading program this summer, according to Lloyd.

Beanstack helps to power summer reading programs by recommending books, keeping track of who has read what and issuing prizes and badges for top readers. It runs on computers, tablets and mobile phones. Lloyd says it’s a modern solution for making the laborious task of running a reading program more fun and interactive for all involved.

“Libraries have reading programs… and those historically have been run on paper or on outdated software,” he said.

The system works for both children and adult participants and can potentially be expanded beyond reading. “Anything the library is trying to achieve,” from exercise programs to events, could be powered by Beanstack, said Lloyd.

Zoobean founders at White HouseLast summer Felix and Jordan participated in the first-ever White House Demo Day for startup founders. The couple met President Obama and rubbed elbows with investors, tech executives and fellow startup founders.

Since that event, Silicon Valley’s fortunes have taken a tumble; many tech companies with previously sky-high valuations are struggling to raise new funds. Felix, however, said he doesn’t follow the ups and downs in Silicon Valley very closely. From the start Zoobean was generating revenue, in contrast to some tech startup darlings in the Valley.

“One of the things we’ve benefitted from in the beginning — when I was raising money for the first time, [our investors] were very sensitive to us having revenue already,” he said. “They like business-to-business models. They were very wary of very high Silicon Valley valuations. I think that we have from the beginning had to achieve a certain level of revenue… which leaves enough for [investors] to still win coming in later. We’re not already at a peak.”

Zoobean currently has six full time employees, based in the D.C. area and in Pittsburgh, along with four part time employees and about 10 contractors.

by Jennifer Currier — February 8, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

OneWeb Rosslyn Office (courtesy of Monday Properties)Imagine a world where every person in every city or town or village in every country had access to fast, affordable Internet.

Satellite company OneWeb is working to make this vision a reality by launching a constellation of nearly 700 low-orbit satellites, and it’s moving to Rosslyn.

Last month, the company announced it is leasing 6,000 square feet of office space at 1400 Key Blvd, meaning OneWeb’s central operation will be moving to Arlington in the near future.

“Washington is one of the key international hubs for the aerospace and satellite industries, and the area’s deep talent pool will be a tremendous asset as we continue to expand our operations, including finding a site for a network operations center and a satellite operations center,” said OneWeb CEO Matt O’Connell about the move.

The space is part of Monday Properties’ Ground Floor, where other startups and “early stage” companies have also landed.

OneWeb is currently based on Jersey, one of Britain’s Channel Islands. The idea for worldwide Internet access first started in 2002 when founder Greg Wyler started a telecommunications company to bring low-cost cell phone and Internet service to people in Rwanda.

Still, Wyler knew he had to build many more satellites and bring them closer to Earth to achieve international communication, faster speeds, affordable costs and, ultimately, universal access. OneWeb is the means by which he hopes to finally do so.

“This is an enormous long-term project and our goal is to provide reliable high-speed internet access to all communities around the world who don’t currently have access,” O’Connell said. “We believe connectivity is a fundamental layer for societal and economic growth.”

(more…)

by Jennifer Currier — February 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Winter Foundry Cup logoCrystal City startup incubator Eastern Foundry is preparing for its second Foundry Cup, a themed competition for startups. Due to increased interest, the deadline to apply for the competition — which was originally scheduled for mid-January — has been extended to this Friday.

“There is a great deal of interest in this year’s Foundry Cup,” said Director of Partnerships and Events Lauren Schmidt. “Promising submissions have been rolling in steadily since we announced and because of a rather large influx of interested startups this January, we decided to extend our deadline.”

This winter’s event is called Foundry Cup: Portable Power. There is no application fee, and any startup working in or with an idea in this realm are welcome to apply.

According to the competition’s website, Eastern Foundry is seeking startups that create “effective off-grid power solutions” for men and women working and living in some of the world’s most challenging places. These can include FEMA first responders, military, USAID workers, hikers on isolated trails and more.

Winter Foundy Cup 2“The Foundry Cup is more than a competition and networking opportunity,” Schmidt said. “It creates a forum that brings together leaders and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds and across generations to tackle one of the largest problems in the world right now.”

The competition is looking for ideas that are eco-friendly and cost-effective, specifically with the potential to decrease government spending on fuel and other power sources.

It’s also looking for entrants from virtually anywhere, not just locally. While Schmidt said most applications so far have been from the D.C. area, they’ve also received some from the West Coast, other countries and students from universities.

The inaugural Foundry Cup was held in June 2015, during which startups were challenged with finding ways to detect and treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and fourteen finalists competed for the $10,000 first place prize.

This year, Schmidt said things will be a bit different.

Winter Foundry Cup promoThe competition was shortened from 72 to 48 hours to keep entrants focused on displaying their best components and features on “Demo Day.” The new schedule also includes more time for networking, allowing competitors to interact with each other, government officials and other established business leaders.

While Schmidt said they expect at least 50 applications by Friday’s deadline, only 10 finalists will be selected, making this winter’s installment of the Cup more competitive. Those finalists — along with the venue — are expected to be announced on Feb. 15.

From then until Demo Day on March 25, the finalists will work to develop their ideas and prepare to present them to private business owners, government contractors, military and civilian agencies. The finalist startups will compete for $10,00 first place and $5,000 second place prizes. There will also be a “People’s Choice” award of $1,000.

Though it’s only the second installment of the competition, Schmidt said Eastern Foundry is hoping to make the Foundry Cup an annual event for startups to work to address timely and critical issues facing the world’s population.

“For this competition, we are hoping to advance and promote game-changing approaches to versatile, go-anywhere power sources that are long lasting and durable,” she said. “Our longer-term goal is to create a reliable and effective forum for exposure and discussion on how generations of innovators and startups are solving the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Photos courtesy of Eastern Foundry

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